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Date: 10/17/19 18:53
Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: Passfanatic

Hello everyone, I am interested in finding ways that I can get paid for my railroad photography. A few months ago, I became a member of Trains Magazine and for several months, I have subscribed to Passenger Train Journal. I know that both magazines, pictures that get published-photographers often get paid.

I would like to find ways to get paid for taking railroad pictures on the internet.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Date: 10/17/19 20:17
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: BRAtkinson

Unfortunately, the age of digital photography has spawned millions of folks aspiring to be a professional photographer.  Unfortunately, it's not a 'hang out a shingle and they will come to you' kind of business.  It doesn't happen overnight.  It doesn't happen over years.  But lots and lots of 'exposure' of your work over a long period of time.

Perhaps one of the best sites I can think of is the "Aspiring Professionals' sub forum <click here> of ThePhotoForum.com <click here>.  There's a tremendous wealth of professional, semi-professional, and hobbiests that provide an incredible wealth of information to learn and grow by.  One of my favorite posts from some years back is how to determine your costs of doing business as a professional photographer <click here>.  And it's a completely free web site!

Date: 10/18/19 00:21
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: wpamtk

In my experience, if you submit photos to a magazine (assuming they're not rejected) they are apt to sit on them for a long time before using them, if ever. If they're newsworthy they might use them, but you're likely to not be the only one submitting them. Either way, the payment for their use is minimal. I recently had a photo used in a Kalmbach publication, and was paid $40. You might write and illustrate a feature article, but consider how many of those actually appear in, say, a year. As for putting pictures on the internet, it's like the old saying, "Nobody buys the cow when the milk is free."
I really don't want to discourage you from trying to get your work published. But do it for your own enjoyment and self-satisfaction. And if you get a little cash out of it, that will be icing on the cake.

Date: 10/18/19 08:17
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: Arved

You might also want to consider sending photos to (book) authors for consideration in future books. You might get a free copy of the book, which often is worth more than the rembursement for a photo in a magazine article.

You might also consider selling prints as art. Photo District News (PDN) is a good resource for identiying where the market is in photography. I have never seen anything related to the potential of railroad photography.

"How to make a small fortune in photography? Start with a large fortune."

I'm a retired (wedding and portrait) professional photographer, so I have a small insight into the commercial photography market. I've also been published in CTC Board and Railfan and Railroad. Knowing the editors played a large part in getting my work published, so don't discount the value of networking. R&R paid. CTC Board did not (and I was cool with that).

Arved Grass
Fleming Island, FL
Arved Grass

Date: 10/19/19 09:09
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: BoilingMan

Oddly enough, simply posting my photos here on TO has had the (unexpected) result in attracting a few paying situations.  As a direct result of TO my photos have found their way onto 2 record album covers, a book, a museum display, TRAINS news wires, and some advertising.  Hardly enough $$ to make a living off of, but still...
I've submitted 2 articles (although the first was more written work, and the second a photo essay) to TRAINS and both were accepted and published, but as stated- the "gestation period" for both was over a year each.  TRAINS blocks out their magazine about a year in advance, so it's a slow process. Both pieces ran 8 pages each (I think that's their max) and paid about $600-700 each.
Good luck to you!

Date: 10/19/19 11:22
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: WW

Having some experience in writing about and photographing railfan-related subjects, I can attest that it is not much of a paying proposition.  As others have noted, the internet has helped to destroy much chance of even making minimal money at paid railfan photography or writing.

Something else to think about--a wise gentleman told me years ago that "When your hobby becomes your profession, it's not a hobby, anymore."   As a railfan who wound up spending some years as a professional railroader, I can say that the statement is absolutely true.  I'm still a railfan, but not nearly as much or in the same way as I was before "turning pro" as a career.

Date: 10/19/19 11:44
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: BoilingMan

I dunno, I'm going to have to disagree...    I'd been photographing RR subjects for nearly 50yrs in relative obscurity until the internet opened the door.  Without the internet chances to share my work were far and few.
Also, my career in RRing (32yrs with Amtrak)  provided a better understanding of the subject and sharpened my skill in capturing and conveying that story with a camera.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/20/19 08:47 by BoilingMan.

Date: 10/19/19 14:08
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: MirandaDepot

In talking with professional photographers...the ones doing photography for a living...I'm left with the impression that there are four ways to make money: (1) Weddings (2) Have a curated catalog of thousands of great photos that occassionally result in sales (3) Teach classes, or (4) Conduct paid photography expeditions. 

Of course it's fun to get an award with a check from a judged show and it's fun to sell something now and then. Making serious money photography is a full time and more job. Every day, starting at sunrise....

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/24/19 20:11 by MirandaDepot.

Date: 10/20/19 07:25
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: sarailfan

More like before sunrise, if you want to be on location in time to photograph said sunrise!

Posted from Android

Darren Boes
Lethbridge, AB
Southern Alberta Railfan

Date: 10/20/19 10:24
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: MirandaDepot

Yup, before sunrise. In the rain. 

Date: 10/20/19 11:27
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: seod

Another thing is if you do start getting a lot of pictures in magazines then people start ganging up on you and the magazines for only using the "golden boy" and not using their great pictures then to quite the whiners they don't use you stuff anymore.

It is  not personal I have never really tried that hard to get published I have had a few over the years. I had some in CTC board when they still paid and it paid for a new Gitzo carbon fiber tripod.

Scott O'Dell 

Date: 10/20/19 12:08
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: Lurch_in_ABQ

Get pix of rail riders in compromising situations and offer to not post on internet for a price. That might be called extortion - best check local regs and get legal advice.

Date: 10/21/19 17:15
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: Passfanatic

Again, thanks for the advice everyone. I never thought of sending stuff to an author to publish in a book. I am not just going to consider that for my train pictures. I take pictures of a lot of things besides trains.

Date: 10/21/19 17:23
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: sixaxlecentury

Kalmbach is by far a magazine with "Golden Boy" roots, as well as sitting on stuff for months and years on end.   White River is the polar oppisite with their publications, and much better to deal with.   

Date: 10/22/19 06:59
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: RFandPFan

I enjoy photographing and videotaping trains, even more so since I retired.  It's difficult to conceive making a living photographing trains unless you produce artsy, framed work suitable for home decor.  Even then. it would be tough to market them in such a way to make a decent profit.

I enjoy sharing my stuff here and on FB.  The only compensation I've ever received is when TO has been generous enough to give me free months of subscription for IOTD! 

Date: 10/25/19 11:56
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: mopac1978

As one who has been published in the past in Trains and Railfan & Railroad, when I consider all that has been invested in film (yeah, the olden days!), cameras, vehicles, fuel and travel costs, I can certainly say I've made a "small fortune" in publishing railfan articles and photos!

Date: 10/28/19 15:14
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: Passfanatic

I was a subscriber to Railfan & Railroad many years ago. It's a great magazine. I plan to submit pictures to Trains Magazine multiple times a year. I would like to submit some articles as well.

I go onto railpictures.net. I have had pictures accepted to their database but you not only not get paid for them. The guidelines are extremely rigid, especially to photographers that have had many negative encounters with administration for not meeting the standards. I feel that with railpictures.net, there is a lot of favoritism on that site. I have been many cloudy days pictures accepted to the database of daily train movements such as regularly scheduled commuter trains.

Date: 10/28/19 22:45
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: Heymon

I don't know about favoritism on Railpictures.net, but the rigid standards were quite useful to me in terms of making me a better photographer.  I think if people tried to meet the standards instead of complaining about them they would be much better off, but it is not easy to have a photo you think is good be rejected by some virtually anonymous judge.  I have had a few of my shots sell due to Railpictures.net but it's just gravy because I'm not in it for the money, I just want to take better photos.  I think the one thing railpictures could do is provide a little more feedback on rejections that are close, but I think they have to weed through a lot of submissions and there isn't the time.  That is the other thing rigid standards provide, because when I go there to look at photos they all are fairly decent, while other sites will take anything and it is a bit tough to find the ones that are compelling.  

Date: 10/30/19 05:13
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: JUTower

You can definitely make some money at it if you put your mind to it.  I know of several folks who have done rather well (made enough money to completely upgrade an entire DSLR package with top-grade lenses).  I don't think it's practical to try to make a living from solely railroad photography, though, although there are a small lucky few who are able to do just that as well.

My advice:
1. Get really good.  Practice practice practice, take some classes, study other photographers (both rail and non-rail) as a source of ideas.
2. Be willing to experiment. Try new ideas, angles, lighting, equipment. Do this often.
3. As you start to get some good results, get feedback.  Show your top 10 favorite photos to renowned photographers (both rail and non-rail) for feedback and critique.  Enter photo contests (a free way to get your name out there)
4. Get your name out there. Attend the Center for Rail Photo & Art conferences.  Post a portfolio online / to Flickr / etc.
5. Submit photos to Trains, Railfan & Railroad, etc.  You won't make much money, but the people who are willing to spend $ for photos will see your work.
6. You can try selling prints. It's a tricky market and not a very large one.
7. If you like to write you can try to write articles and get your photos included.  A lot of work, you really have to love this sort of work.
8. You can make more money by doing photo work for others - photo assignments & photo commissions.  It takes getting the attention of the right people to do this, and it can take time to work up to that point.  And once you know people, they move jobs and leave companies and so it is tricky to keep a network of photo clients updated.  But it can be done.

Best of luck to you!

Date: 11/01/19 16:53
Re: Ways to Get Paid for my Rail Photography
Author: skyview

So if your looking for incidental payments for images, submit away and if your images are newsy, unique, and/or very good, some images might get used with a payment made.  But, if you think for a minute these payments, even for full featured articles, will cover the cost of taking railroad subjects and railfanning, then you will be quite disappointed, as the costs will far outway the incidental revenue recieved from railfan oriented publications.  That said, its always fun to see an image in print, and a check in the mail is a pleasent surprise.  

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